Breen’s preparations for the season opener were disturbed when he crashed M-Sport Ford’s test Puma days before the start of the Monaco-based fixture.
The Irishman and co-driver Paul Nagle bounced back to secure third on the four-day event, ensuring a double podium for Wilson’s squad, with team-mate Sébastien Loeb scoring a memorable victory.
“Craig did exactly the job we wanted him to do,” said Wilson. “We had a plan which we’d worked on together and he did exactly that.
“He knew this was potentially going to be one of the more tricky rallies for him, not having been here for a few years. We talked about putting points down and we were very clear with him on what was needed and to come away with a podium is a dream start for him.
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“It’s an even better result because the two guys ahead of him [in the overall classification] aren’t competing in the full championship.”
After ending Friday’s second leg in sixth, Breen moved into the top three by Saturday lunchtime and never looked like losing that position for the remainder of the event.
Having secured his fifth podium from his last seven WRC starts, Breen was pleased with his maiden outing in the new hybrid-powered Puma Rally1.
“It took me a little while to get the set-up right,” he said. “Probably the crash in testing impacted on that a little bit, and I was fairly cautious early in the event. We made some changes for Saturday and I felt really comfortable. The car has so much potential, it’s incredible.”
Wilson’s delight at the opening round result was furthered by Gus Greensmith. The Briton made it three Pumas in the top five and secured his first stage win in the process.